Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Always Be Prepared

I have spent most of my life being over-prepared. I over-pack when I go on vacation. I over-analyze issues and problems. And I tend to over-think every little detail. Even my back-up plans have their own back-up plan. But now I find myself at a point in my life where I feel woefully under-prepared for just about everything. Well, except for the packing. I still have that covered.

It has been ten months since I left my corporate health care job. Soon it will be a year. Almost a full year of exploring and experimenting with my new life. When I left my job, I had some ideas about what I wanted to do next. I thought I might teach yoga for awhile, and then possibly explore some freelance writing work. And I did pursue both of those things to some degree.

I discovered that teaching yoga is not nearly as fulfilling for me as practicing yoga. And I discovered that freelance writing jobs don't pay nearly as much as I hoped they would. While it is liberating to be your own boss, it is also challenging not to know when or where your next paycheck is coming from. And with the writing jobs I've had so far, I have practically given away my talents for free.

It turns out that writing is very much a commodity out there in the world. Most of the jobs are bid at low rates of less than a penny per word. The clients seem to have unrealistic expectations of writers. They want fully researched, well-written, original content, but they don't seem to acknowledge the time or skill it takes to produce that content. There is so much more to writing than the number of words on the page.

And much like my experience with yoga, when I sit down to write for money it doesn't bring me nearly the amount of joy I get when I write for myself. I feel more pressure to produce and also I tend to worry that my client might not like the end product. When I write for myself, the only person I have to please is me. And I can take as much time as I want.

So now I wonder what is next for me. I have tried all the things I planned to try and they didn't quite work out the way I thought they would. At the same time, I have really enjoyed all of my experiences. It doesn't feel like a waste of time to have tried any of these things. It just feels like they weren't quite the right fit.

My Dad always says that work isn't supposed to be fun. That is why they call it work. But I still believe there is something out there that I can make a living at without feeling completely miserable. There has to be a way. I have come this far and I don't want to turn back now.

I find myself in a position I have never been in before. I don't have the answer. I don't even have a plan for the next step to find the answer. I feel like I am clinging to my last days of freedom before I have to go back to the "real world." Whatever that means.

I believe that the universe plays a huge role in determining my future. But I have a part to play as well. The key is to strike that balance between detachment and involvement. Yes, I could just go out and aggressively pursue every health care related job between Detroit and Cleveland. But that would only force the issue and ultimately send me back to where I started.

Yet I also can't just sit here on the couch in Mark Johnson's apartment and wait for the perfect job to come knocking on the door. I will have to continue with my soul searching and seeking. And who knows where it will lead.

Last week I was picking up my niece at ballet and she was telling me stories about some of the kids at school and how crazy they are. And she was marvelling at how someday those same crazy kids will be parents to their own kids. (I'm more worried about those kids driving in four years, as opposed to being parents in another 15 years, but maybe that's just me.) Then she made an interesting observation.

"I don't know why adults are always preparing us for the future," she explained. "It's going to be totally different by the time we get there."

Then she told me all about how technology has changed and it's more than just the latest version of the iPhone. They are making hover boards that really work and all sorts of other things. In her mind, there is no need to worry about the future because whatever might happen in the future is probably something she couldn't possibly imagine. And whatever rules and structure we live by today won't even apply anymore.

For as much as my life has changed in the past year, I wonder if I am still clinging to some old rules and structure that don't apply anymore. It feels like I have been straddling the fence between doing what is expected and believing in that which is nearly imperceptible.

In the past year, I have let go of so many thoughts and behaviors that were holding me back from living my life in the most whole and complete way. And by doing so, I have started to uncover my true self. While it can be scary to feel unprepared for this next stage in my life, it is also exciting not to be bound to a specific plan.

Of course it is tempting to revert to what is familiar, especially when some of the new things I have tried haven't seemed to work out. But I know where the path of doing what is expected leads. I have already been down that path. It's time to forge a new path, knowing that I may have to believe it before I can see it.

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